The Sandy Hook Tragedy, ESPN Uses Twitter to Embed Videos, Instagram Updates, & Boston Sports

Top Story: The Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Like many, we first heard of Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut  through scrolling our social media news feeds; the devastating and unfathomable details were broadcasted live via Facebook and Twitter accounts. The evolution of social media during tragic times like these is evident when rewinding back to things such as the Columbine shooting.  In 1999, all of us were glued to our television screens watching the latest updates on CNN or the local news broadcast, 10 years from now we will have memories of scrolling through our Facebook and Twitter feed on our phones.

One of the major realizations we’ve gathered when analyzing the role social media has during catastrophic times like these is the sense of community. Victims are being consoled by individual people all over the world rather than just hearing mentions on news channels. Social media has become an important outlet for grief and is giving victims the sense that they are not alone. The most tweeted hashtags involving the shooting were #SandyHook, #PrayforNewtown, and  #PrayforSandyHook. People also shared photos of gatherings and candles lit in honor of the victims of the tragedy.


We have already started to hear about online efforts to help victims but we are predicting many more ideas will start streaming through Twitter.  Five online campaigns you can contribute to now are Sandy Hook Elementary School Fund, Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, Help for Sandy Hook Elementary School Families, Secure Schools, and Wall of Love. Students at Virginia Tech have also started their own fundraiser Hokie Hope for Sandy Hook  to help those affected at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Although the evolution of social media can be terrifying to some, it’s nice to see the benefits during tragic times like these. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragedy and we will continue to show our support on our Twitter and Facebook pages.


Under the Radar: ESPN uses Twitter to embed videos in tweets for College Football

College football has partnered with Ford and Twitter to create an innovative new form of media (as well as a new ad model for Twitter) in which they will embed instant replays from games directly into tweets. Before the video is shown, viewers will be served a video for the Ford Fusion.

This is now the first sports-centric promotion Twitter has done, their first major foray coming with a partnership with NASCAR to create a branded #NASCAR page that held user generated content as curated by Twitter employees.

One of the major benefits the newest partnership brings is the ability for football fans to quickly few and share important replays on their mobile phone without leaving the Twitter app, which benefits college football, its fans and Twitter. This shift is something other major sports leagues and media providers are sure to notice, opening up a possibly lucrative model where they could sell ad video space, and not rely on one major advertiser.

Seeing the normally stuffy college football establishment on the better side of the innovation trail is great, especially considering the SEC’s (Southeastern Conference) near social disaster a few years ago when it announced that it would ban all real-time updating of games from all stadium attendees in any way. They were quickly attacked for short-sightedness, and updated the rules to say all business purposes, quelling many of the major issues people saw with the stringent rules.


Tool of the Week: Instagram Updates Interface and Privacy Policy

Our old friend Instagram has had a recent facelift – to its UI and its privacy policy.

First, let’s talk cosmetic and UI changes.

  1. Nifty new photo button and gridlines when taking your photo (oooh, ahhhhh)

2. Scale and crop features – no longer have to use your normal camera function to crop and scale, can do it all within the app.

3. Woohoo!!! New filters. Ok, just one. And its name is “Willow.” Officially, “a monochrome filter with subtle purple tones and a translucent glowing white border.” We call it black and white.

4. Tiny things you may not notice – images appear larger, News Feed design has been tweaked slightly.

All in all, subtle changes, but great steps towards making Instagram a one-stop shop for photo sharing.

Now to our favorite part – updates to Instagam’s privacy settings. Let’s be honest – we could probably devote a weekly spot to Facebook and privacy settings changes. This morning, Mashable announced Instagram has made changes to its privacy policy that allows its new parent, Facebook, to use data generated by the app.

A few things about the change:

  1. It wont take place until January 16, 2013
  2. Users still chose who is allowed to see their Instagram photos
  3. Users still chose if their photo is posted on Facebook

So, what do these changes mean for us as users? Basically, it means that Facebook will have more insight into our day-to-day activities that will allow it to further tailor content and ads to our behaviors(“including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data”).  Not a huge change to the way we use Instagram, rather a change to the way Facebook see us as users.


Around the Hub: Boston is Still Sports Crazy on Social Media

You’d think we’d all be getting a little bored with obsessing over sports on social media these days. After all, Not only has it become normal to see athletes tweeting about what they had for lunch, but Ochocinco and Evelyn Lozada are no longer fighting publically on Twitter and Gronk rarely says anything scandalous these days. Boring, right? But instead, Boston is becoming even more obsessed and it’s to the point that if you’re a sports fan not on social media, you’re seriously missing out.

Last year, we reported that Emerson’s Professor David Gerzof managed to get Ochocinco to come and teach his class all about social media. This year, he took it a step further and had the one and only Rob Gronkowski in the classroom. Students went wild (especially on Twitter) and local media picked up the story as if the Patriots had just won the Super Bowl. How will Gerzof top Gronk in the classroom next year?

In other sports and social media news, the Boston Business Journal recently profiled Celtics’ Social Media Director, Peter Stringer; the man responsible for all of the Celtics’ social media platforms. He claims his goal is to give fans an “inside look” at the team, which requires him to attend plenty of games and stay on top of what the team is doing all the time. We’ve given shout-outs to the Celtics in the past, citing them for their excellent use of social media and loved learning a little more about the man behind it all.

And thanks to social media, if you were watching the Patriots game last night, you felt safe switching channels to the Dexter and Homeland finales, knowing your Twitter feed would keep you updated on what was happening. Which is exactly how you knew to switch the channel back in the fourth quarter. And how you woke up to words of wisdom from Donte Stallworth on Twitter this morning: “We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.”

We’re looking forward to 2013 to see how sports and social media continue to evolve and hopefully bring us closer to the teams we love. Are you still using social media to feed your sports addiction?

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The Twitter-Instagram Wars

Twitter users have long loved Instagram. Not only does it give them the ability to apply filters to photos, but it also offers an instant community; another place to get your photos seen by a crowd that may or may not be on social media platforms. Often, when people share a photo to Instagram, they also share it to Twitter and sometimes Facebook, too (among other social networks). But Instagram just made that a bit more difficult to do. They’ve disabled their integration with Twitter cards, which means photos sent to Twitter with Instagram will no longer show up in your followers’ feeds; instead they’ll direct your followers to the Instagram website. Everyone say, “Ugh,” in unison.

In a way, it makes sense. After all, Instagram just launched their web presence and we can’t blame them for wanting to get some traffic.  But this decision has essentially turned two companies who have always played nice together into competitors. And it’s too early to say who’s going to win this war.

To compensate for their loss, Twitter has now launched filters, essentially hoping to eliminate your need for Instagram. But we feel like they did a bit of a half-assed job at it and their filters are nowhere close to Instagrams. Not to mention, what about our friends who aren’t on Twitter who we want to share photos with? And what about those times you’re sitting on the train and you want to scroll through recent photo updates instead of viewing every single tweet? We can’t expect everyone to upload  their photos to both Instagram and then separately to Twitter. So, somebody’s gotta win this one.

Which brings us to Flickr. Ever since Marissa Mayer took over at the helm of Yahoo, she’s been working to make their offerings useful again. Flickr, which is part of Yahoo, seems to be a dying network. Why upload photos to Flickr when you can have them on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.? Well, they’re hoping that you’ll now have a reason to. Not only is Flickr offering various photo filters (16 of them!), but they’ll also be fully integrated with Twitter.  Perfect timing in the wake of the Instagram drama. But will people make the switch from Instagram to Flickr or is Flickr already too much of a has-been?

It’s too early to tell, but for now, we think most people will deal with the annoyance of Instagram’s non-integration with Twitter.  Instagram worked hard to earn those one hundred million users and we like utilizing the platform because everyone we know is also on it. Can a platform like Flickr convince even a fraction of those users to make the switch? It’s doubtful. Will people start using the filters on Twitter and eventually abandon Instagram? We don’t think Twitter’s filters are quite advanced enough just yet. Perhaps a bigger and better photo-sharing service will come long that will sweep us all off our feet, but for now, we’re stuck in the middle of the photo-sharing war.



Apple & Google Buy Kodak Patents, Dell Launches Social Services, Google+ Launches Communities, & Christmas Trees on the MBTA

Top Story: Apple and Google Join Forces to Buy Kodak Patents

The two companies who have a reputation of feuding are rumored to be working together for a common interest in Kodak, the now bankrupted company whose products brought instant photography to the masses. Apple and Google are offering a combined $500 million to buy Kodak patents that relate to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images.

Mobile digital imagery is a highly competitive market in today’s photo-obsessed culture, and both Apple and Google want to be in the race. Instagram, the leading picture editing and sharing app available for iPhone and Android, which is owned by Facebook, dominates the picture-sharing landscape. What is ironic about the Apple-Google interest in Kodak is that neither company has released successful software to compete directly with Instagram, even though they both have the hardware and operating systems to make it possible.

Kodak is in the process of restructuring its resources to focus explicitly on photo printing for business.

Do you think Apple and Google’s acquisition of Kodak’s patents will better suit them to compete in the picture-sharing sphere? Or is it too late to keep up with Instagram’s growing users?


Under the Radar: Dell Recognizes Importance of Social, Launched Social Services

Dell, who has been lauded over the last few years for its very strong internal social media uses, especially with empowering employees into communities, has decided to use their experience to create a new revenue stream. There internal unit will provide a number of consulting and turnkey social solutions, including seminars and listening services.

While it is great to see large brands not only accepting, but pushing the limits on the use and monetization models of social media, this move is also demonstrating a shift in the industry towards a less personal approach to brands learning to use social channels. Using their technology to build a listening platform makes a lot of sense and is certainly not a new idea, the fact they are offering consulting seems off-brand for the computer giant.

If they are simply using a large team of “social media experts” to give over-the-phone social strategies to brand, it would stop companies from getting the personal (and in person) touch agencies and startups offer companies by integrating into their brand before helping steer the strategy and content for a brand.

Everyone is looking for more seamless, turnkey solutions in marketing, but companies should not push their luck too far on these services, as it often will leave them out to dry if the system doesn’t fit them perfectly. It is early to say if this is how Dell will approach their social services, but it will be difficult for them to be as agile as agencies and startups because of their size.


Tool of the Week: Google+ Launches Communities

Google is trying everything they can to push their Google+ platform and get people off Facebook and Twitter. The problem is, they haven’t done much to differentiate themselves, besides convince us we need to join to get a boost in SEO (or at least not be penalized). But now, they’ve officially launched Google+ Communities, which could be just the thing they need to stand out from the rest.

In their blog post, Google makes it clear that they want to differentiate themselves from other social platforms, saying that their goal is “to make online sharing as meaningful as the real thing. Too often our online tools miss the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions, and Google+ aims to fix this.” They think Communities can do this. Basically, Google+ Communities lets users create and join public or private groups around whatever interests they have.

In the video they provide to explain the new feature, they start with the example of a food community. The narrator says, “Yeah, everyone likes to eat. But the truth is, it’s not often I find people who love food like I do.” Solution? Google+ Communities. My first thought was, ”Well, isn’t that exactly the point of Facebook groups?” My second was that there are thousands of blogging communities that bring people with similar interests together. But upon doing a little more digging, I realized that it’s true, Google+ Communities do offer a little something more than any other platform offers. First of all, the incorporate videos and hangouts, which are essential when it comes to sharing your passions and learning from those around you. Second of all, they allow for document sharing, which will allow people in communities to collaborate and work on projects together.

Soon, Communities will also be available for mobile users, which could help make them even more popular

In highly technical language, they claim, “Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever.” And perhaps with Google+ Communities, that will continue. Will you be joining any Communities?


Around the Hub: Christmas Trees on the MBTA

With holiday season in full swing, city-slickers are dashing around to grab packages, gifts, and decorations for the holidays. But what is the appropriate etiquette when it comes to taking all of these packages on the MBTA – especially Christmas trees. Although there are no explicit rules about bring a five-foot bristly pine tree on the Green Line during rush hour, MBTA officials are asking people to use “common sense”. BostInno has outline a view suggestions for the holidays:

1)   Attempting to bring a full size pine tree on a packed train at rush hour will certainly cause passengers more holiday frustration than cheer.

2)   If you’re not strong enough to keep control of a 7-foot tree on the stop-and-go nature of public transportation, please opt for a small pine. Or take a cab.

You can also get your Christmas tree delivered via DASHED this holiday season! In less than 45 minutes you can have a bristly pine, garland, and poinsettias delivered to your front door!

Happy decorating! And remember your T etiquette this holiday season.




Apple Apologizes for Maps, Social Media Investigative Tool, Uber TAXI, & FreedomPop


Top Story: Apple Apologizes for Maps; Offers Alternatives

What would Steve Jobs do? Well, presumably, he probably wouldn’t have released iOS 6 with such a shoddy version of Maps. He would have been certain to perfect Maps before releasing even thinking about releasing it. But what’s done is done. And while we’ve been hearing mostly fabulous reviews of the iOS 6 (panoramic photos! new and improved Siri! Passbook! new emojis!), the poor reviews of Maps are overshadowing the good. Which is likely why Apple CEO Tim Cook took matters into his own hands and issued a public apology at the end of last week.

Cook starts his apology by claiming, “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” He continues on to let users now Apple is working “non-stop” to get Maps up to standards and even goes so far as to recommend a few other services we can use in the meantime, like Bing, MapQuest, Waze, Google, and Nokia maps. When Apple starts recommending Google, you know things must be getting serious. But it also shows that the company has enough faith in their product to know its users will return once Maps is up to standard.

So, what would Steve Jobs really have done? Well, he likely wouldn’t have released the new Maps just yet. But we still think he’d approve that Tim Cook went ahead and issued a public apology. And then he’d send his workers back to their stations to create a new Maps that we can actually use!


Under the Radar: Social Media: An Investigation Tool 

You wouldn’t believe the number of photos posted to Instagram of guns, drugs, and graffiti that assist police in solving crimes. Many people don’t realize (or simply forget) that social media sites now offer location-based services. Instagram happens to be one of those LBS sites that tag the location where the photos were taken. Police have caught on to this and are following people who post disturbing images that might lead to an arrest.

Police departments reported using social media venues- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare not only during investigations, but as a tool to search for criminal activity. Last year, The NYPD formed a social media focused unity that reportedly digs through social media websites looking for criminal activity of postings about potential enforcement situations such as a large house party or any types of threatening messages.

While police find social media to be a beneficial tool in marketing communities safer – lawyers disagree. One lawyer said social media use by the police has not had a material impact on his cases, but is has made him more cautious when he gives clients advice and counsels them on how to communicate. He went on to say that lawyers’ jobs became more difficult because the courts have an increasingly difficult set of tools they can use to monitor people.  “Social media is changing the world. We are all connected in ways we weren’t before, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.” he said. He believes courts will need to shift the Fourth Amendment to include social media because he thinks it should be harder for the government to monitor people that way.


Do you think social media sites are free reign in investigations and court rooms?


Tool of the Week: Social Media: Want Data Freedom? FreedomPop is Here to Deliver!

Almost one year ago, one of Skype’s co-founder’s announced a new startup: FreedomPop. The hook of this new endeavor was stated directly on their homepage where anyone could sign up for updates; “The internet is a right, not a privilege. Free mobile services for ALL!”

While this sounded overly ambitious in the beginning, it appears FreedomPop is ready to deliver on their promise. Not with totally free, unlimited internet access though, unfortunately. But, with a free hotspot or USB ($89 and $49 deposits for each, respectively) you can receive up to 500MB of free 4G internet each month, with a $10 fee for every gigabyte after.

There is an investment to take advantage of FreedomPop, it does appear to be a useful tool for anyone who is a light internet user that does not want to pay to data on their tablet, computer or even mobile phone.

To cover the costs of the data, FreedomPop offers tasks users can do to get more data, such as signing up for Netflix, watching an ad, or other advertising and lead-gen driven goals. They also will be offering faster internet for a fee, and presumably other “premium” services.

FreedomPop will also be releasing iPhone cases next month that act as hotspots and chargers, which will be sold for $99.

Around the Hub: Uber TAXI

Uber, the popular app that provides quick and easy car service for Boston residents, is now offerring Uber TAXI – a new feature that allows the user to hail a taxi cab instead of a fancy black town car.

Uber experienced many roadblocks in Boston in the past few months but was recently given the ruling to continue its operation with the help of Governor Deval Patrick. Opposers of Uber claim that the service uses a metering system that is not consistent with other licensed car services, and therefore should be forbidden to operate. Supporters of Uber say that its convenience, reliability, and extreme care of its customers set it apart from other car services, and that they use it because they feel more comfortable with Uber drivers than those of a traditional taxi cab.


The new Uber TAXI feature, however, will give the option of dispatching a cab from already existing cab services located in Boston. An automatic $1 TAXI fee and 20% gratuity is automatically added, and the remainder of the fare is calculated using the in-vehicle meter, allowing for a quicker, hassle free journey to your destination.

Since its release, Uber has become a recurring character in Cambridge news. The Cambridge City Council states that Uber uses an unfair metering service and should not be allowed to operate – and is thus suing the company. Uber is confident that they will prevail in the lawsuit and plans to continue to operating in the meantime.


How to Experience New York Fashion Week with Social Media

Of course, there’s nothing better than actually being in New York for Fashion Week, but for most of us, that’s not possible. So, think of it this way: Instead, you can be at home snuggled under a blanket on your couch in a pair of ratty sweatpants with an extra-large bowl of ice cream. No one to judge the designers you are or aren’t wearing and no pain from too-high heels and massive amounts of walking. This is Fashion Week in 2012 and we can all participate in the events online and with social media. Life is good.

Cities across the country have begun holding their own versions of Fashion Week, but nothing compares to the one and only New York Fashion Week. Instead of being forced to wait for your favorite fashion publications to update their websites (though, to be honest, those guys can be pretty speedy!), you can actually watch 30 of the fashion shows live as they stream on Twitter. Not to mention, you can follow along with the brands and their show attendees on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more. Consider this your guide to feeling like you’re at New York Fashion Week without actually having to leave your couch. Who’s popping the popcorn?

Twitter: Of course, the most important thing to know is to always be following hashtag #NYFW, but if you find that to be completely overwhelming (really, I was beyond overwhelmed with it before Fashion Week even started), you might want to put together a list of your favorite designers and follow their updates on Twitter. Here’s a great resource of the Fashion Week designers on Twitter.  Or you can follow #MBFW (slightly less overwhelming, but still non-stop). And for the record, @MBFashionWeek does a much better job posting relevant updates than @NYFW.


Even the Wall Street Journal is getting in on the action.  If you don’t care too much what the models are wearing at Fashion Week, perhaps you want to see what NYFW attendees are sporting? People will be using (at least the WSJ hopes so) the hashtag #myoutfitWSJ to show off what they’re wearing as they hit up the shows or the fabulous looks they see on others. Follow along

Facebook: You’ll definitely want to “like” Mercedes Benz Fashion Week ASAP and keep your eye on your Facebook news feed. But be sure to “like” all your favorite designers, too. And any fashion publications whose content you respect. The days of waiting for your favorite pubs to land in your mailbox are long gone as you can see their photos on Facebook first. BCBG already had their show yesterday and updated their Facebook page with lots of fun photos. Bonus points for using Instagram for so many of their photos! I’m hoping they’re setting an example for other designers in the days to come.

YouTube: 30+ fashion shows will be live streaming from YouTube’s Live From the Runway channel. Now you can pretend you’re actually sitting in the crowd. You’ll just miss out on that nifty swag bag.

Google+: Obviously Google will be getting Google+ into the action. Not only will there be hangouts on Google+ (Today with +TeenVogue editor +EvaChen212), but +LuckyMagazine will be posting exclusive behind-the-scenes photos all week long.

Tumblr: I’ll include blogs in here, too. I still prefer the speediness and laziness of Twitter, but if you’re getting your daily NYFW updates in small doses throughout the day, I highly recommend following New York Fashion Week’s feed of all Tumblr posts But Women’s Wear Daily does a fabulous job updating their Tumblr with NYFW posts and Kate Spade always stays on top of their Tumblr.

Pinterest: This is really the first New York Fashion Week where Pinterest has been a huge part of most of our lives. So, we can’t wait to see what designers do with their boards. Be sure to follow all your favorites now, so their pins show up in your stream. And though it doesn’t look like Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is doing too much on their Pinterest page, I’d follow them anyway.

Instagram: I saved this one for last because it’s kind of a given. Many designers and attendees will be shooting all their photos (or at least a few of them) on Instagram. You’ll be seeing these show up on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. throughout the week. But you can also go to the Instagram app on your smartphone and follow your favorite designers. Kate Spade on Instagram? Love. The same can be said for Mr. Marc Jacobs.